Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Naranjo de Bulnes: Rabada-Navarro

another year is gone / a traveler's shade on my head, / straw sandals at my feet (Matsuo Bashō)

There goes another climbing trip to this amazing wall on the Iberian peninsula, Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu in Asturian (a language that exists, says the Wiki, despite local inhabitants arguing to the contrary when asked about it in the bar in Arenas de Cabrales).  The logistics turned out to be rather simple - after being kindly picked up at the Santander airport, my Swedish friends and I headed to Sotres, and then up to the Urriellu Refugio, to be greeted there warmly by Sergio and his hard-working team.

Majestic Naranjo coming into sight on the approach 

The approach is one of the more beautiful ones I have done in the mountains - it is flat enough to make it rather painless, and the scenery, especially in the cloudless evening light, is breathtaking.  Appreciating beauty is something mountains teach the lonesome traveler over the years.  It is worthwhile to stop and take one more picture, one more fleeting memory of the light and darkness, mist and transparency below.

Mist coming up the valley on the approach 

Then at another turn of the road, the West face comes into sight, in all its majesty and towering preponderance.  It made me think of the Civetta region in the Dolomites, and the Torre Trieste in particular.  Long time ago, in that long-forgotten other life, I climbed a route there, the proud Cassin route, where we had to bivy on the painful descent, but what a route it was!  With memories of trying to free the key 6b pitch low down on the Cassin, I was contemplating Naranjo, and wondering about this new objective, Rabada-Navarro.

The second part of Rabada-Navarro in the evening sun on the West Face of the Naranjo

A beautiful day was waiting for us, giving us all the time, all the chances on our side, to go up.  Jonas easily led up the hard 6cs at the start, while I tried to follow with some remains of dignity and perseverance.  Oh yes, it's been a while I had been on the long route, carrying the heavy backpack, jamming and pulling the tired body up.  My spirits lifted when finally arriving at the famous 6a+ traverse.  Jorge told me I had to take a picture there, just for him.  So here it goes, traversing all the way:

Leading the traverse pitch, Rabada-Navarro (picture by Jonas Wiklund)

The feeling of control, something I already encountered on Blamannen last year, came back while we scaled meters and meters of easy-ish terrain higher up.  The epic of bivying on the Cassin was not to be - in a couple of hours after the traverse we were already sitting on the top of Naranjo, that is after I almost crawled on the last looooong pitch to the top.  After a peaceful descent and some simul-rapping fun with Jonas, we were down. A lonely missile, a stone fell from the top, just as we were about to touch the ground.  It broke off into thousands of pieces a couple of meters away, a warning, a sign, a reminder back to reality.  Mountains are dangerous, although sometimes they let you pass without a scratch, they let you forget about mortality, about futility, insignificance, and the lack of permanency here down below.

Having accomplished the big objective of the trip on the first day, there was not much left to do for the remainder of the trip.  As Jonas fell ill, paying the tribute to the mountains that allowed him to do so many routes in so few days, we scaled a couple of pitches on Leiva with Joakim, and then went down due to bad weather.

Joakim following the first pitch on Leiva

Thus, another trip came to its end in Valdegobia, where we had to beg for food in this scarcely populated Basque village, living in the haunted mansion all to ourselves, sharing the space of a mystic religious abode in Angosto.  While everyone returns to their homes around Europe, memories (and a blog post) tentatively remain.

Statue of a melancholic raquero watching the weather and the sea in Santander

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Picos de Europa

My first visit to Spain, 5 years ago, was actually on a climbing trip with the objective being to visit Mallos de Riglos and Picos de Europa, two very coveted objectives by long-route climbers, to the crowd of which I used to belong.  Although I managed to get as far as Riglos, Picos had to wait, and wait some more.

Maybe now the time has finally come to see the famous Naranjo by myself, and in nothing else than a Swedish company.  And not any company for that, it will be my pleasure to climb with Jonas Paulsson, the director of Crackoholic movie on Bohuslan climbing around Gothenburg, Joakim Söderström that I have seen on many a memorable fotos, such as this one by the other Jonas, and that has inspired my climbing on Gullknausen in Norway last year, and my friend Jonas Wiklund.

Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Photo-shoot at Senglar

Jaume who now also - and finally!!! - has his own blog, took me up on the proposal to have immortalized a little Senglar project of mine.  Thus, crazy people, we went up on the hottest day of this summer to shoot a couple of pictures for the project, como no!

But first things first, the first-ascensionist - all this would have been impossible without Kim Santacatalina.  Below, the main protagonists of the 20-year old story, in my more humble company:

I could not resist the temptation to fly up and down, once again, on this perfect route, the longstanding project of mine, which I still can hardly believe i managed to climb, the Sprint Final:


And down (Pedro's draw still holding the fall...)

And back up again (whatever way one can...)

And last but not least, Oriol, who belayed me on the red point, and also came up, as usual, taciturn and accommodating, the man of the mountain, if there ever was to be one.

Thank you all, my dear friends!!

All good pictures by Jaume, climbing by myself, and belaying by Oriol.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Encordades, the video

Only recently someone told me that "oh, you will stop climbing, just wait and see, all girls are not that serious about it, they all stop climbing".  Funny, machismo still going on today.  Well done, the protagonists of the Encordades documentary, reminding ourselves - and our male counterparts, that girls can do it well, very well indeed.